Obama Describes Paris Attacks As 'Human Progress' vs. 'Hateful Vision'

By Susan Jones | November 14, 2015 | 5:12am EST
President Obama speaks about the terror attacks in Paris from the briefing room of the White House on Friday. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

(CNSNews.com) - President Obama, speaking as the attacks in Paris were still ongoing, used the word "terrorist" or "terrorize" seven times, and the word "extremist" once, in his brief remarks on the situation Friday evening.

"I don’t want to speculate at this point in terms of who was responsible for this," he said. "It appears that there may still be live activity and dangers that are taking place as we speak."

Nevertheless, Obama went on to describe the attacks as a clash of values: "human progress" on one hand (Western values), and a "hateful vision" (radical Islam) on the other:

As is his usual practice, the president never used the words "radical Islam." (On Sept. 10, 2014, when he announced his anti-ISIL strategy, Obama declared, "ISIL is not 'Islamic.'")

"Paris itself represents the timeless values of human progress," Obama said. "Those who think that they can terrorize the people of France or the values that they stand for are wrong. The American people draw strength from the French people’s commitment to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness.

"We are reminded in this time of tragedy that the bonds of liberté and égalité and fraternité are not only values that the French people care so deeply about, but they are values that we share.  And those values are going to endure far beyond any act of terrorism or the hateful vision of those who perpetrated the crimes this evening.

"We’re going to do whatever it takes to work with the French people and with nations around the world to bring these terrorists to justice, and to go after any terrorist networks that go after our people."

The attacks in Paris came on the same day the United States announced it was "reasonably certain" that it has killed one of the Islamic State's most notorious fighters -- the beheader of Americans and other Westerners known as "Jihadi John."

"We're all familiar with the ghastly videos, the absolute barbarism that he displayed, crimes against American citizens," a spokesman for the U.S.-led anti-ISIS coaltion told reporters from Baghdad. "I mean, this guy was a human animal, and killing him is probably making the world a little bit better place."

Army Col. Steve Warren said it will "take some time" to formally declare success, but he was sure the Hellfire missile fired from a drone killed the people who "were on the receiving end."

"Really for us, it was a fairly routine HVI strike. As you know, we've -- we've killed, on average, one mid- to upper-level ISIL leader every two days since May. So for us, this is very routine."

The spokesman described Jihadi John as "somewhat of an ISIL celebrity" and his death as "a significant blow" to ISIL's "prestige."

As for the broader U.S.-led, undeclared war on the Islamic State, Warren said the strategy hasn't changed but it has been "refined."

"Rather than look at this fight piecemeal, an individual fight in Tikrit, or an individual fight here, an individual fight there -- what we're doing is applying simultaneous pressure to ISIL across the entire battlefield.

"And what that does is it puts ISIL in a very difficult position, because anytime -- so, there will be ground movement -- attacks whether that ground movement is in Sinjar, or whether that ground movement is in Al Hawl, or whether that ground pressure is applied along the Mara line, that will cause the enemy to have to move.

"And the moment the enemy moves, we're there with our air power to rapidly kill them. So, that is what we're trying to do, cause this enemy to not be able -- he's in a position where he can't make good decisions.

"Every -- every decision he tries to make will result in his eventual destruction. And so, I think that is kind of what we refer to as operationalizing, is we have turned this into -- into a complete operation focused on the enemy."

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